The Digital DivideProblems with the concept of ‘WeMedia’
• On the 12 July David Cameron launched theManifesto for a Networked Nation, pledging toget online by 2012 everyone in the UK who isnot yet online. The report estimates thataround 10 million people in the UK do nothave access to the internet, or have neverused it, and that there are enormous benefitsto citizens from internet use.
Estimate to the nearest 5%(i)What percentage of people in the UK are stilloffline?(ii)What percentage of Londoners do you think areonline?(iii) What percentage of Scottish and people in theNortheast of England are online?
Kofi Annan (2003)• A ‘digital divide’ threatens to exacerbate already-wide gaps between rich and poor, within andamong countries. The stakes are high indeed.Timely access to news and information canpromote trade, education, employment, healthand wealth. One of the hallmarks of theinformation society – openness – is a crucialingredient of democracy and good governance.Information and knowledge are also at the heartof efforts to strengthen tolerance, mutualunderstanding and respect for diversity.
Who is Excluded?• For each of the following graphs, identify thesocial group/type of person being excluded.
Why?• What can explain these statistics in terms ofthe digital divide and why are these statisticsespecially problematic in light of the claimsmade by believers of ‘We Media’ and itspossibilities?
Access• It is however becoming increasingly rare tofind people who are genuinely unable toaccess the internet if they wished to- as anexample, most regional libraries now providefree internet use.
Moving from Digital Divide to DigitalInclusion• Sonia Livingstone from the London School ofEconomics has long researched the notion ofwhat is traditionally known as the digitaldivide.• Her research has become increasingly lessfocused simply on access and increasinglymore interested in use (a much trickierconcept incorporating social and economicfactors)
Mark Warschauer (2003)• A framework of technology for social inclusionallows us to re-orient the focus from that ofgaps to be overcome by provision ofequipment to that of social development tobe enhanced through the effective integrationof ICT into communities and institutions. Thiskind of integration can only be achieved byattention to the wide range ofphysical, digital, human, and social resourcesthat meaningful access to ICT entails.
Livingstone & Helsper (2007)• ‘The research task has thus shifted to that of capturingthe range and quality of use, transcending simplebinaries of access/no-access or use/non-use andtracking shifting ‘degrees of marginality’ in digitalinclusion and exclusion’. For example, skills in searchingfor information.• Research looked specifically at the issue of digitalinclusion amongst children (9-19) and aimed to answer3 questions.
Livingstone & Helsper (2007)1. Is there a digital divide among children andyoung people? If so, what role do age, genderand socioeconomic status (SES) play in accessto and use of the internet?2. Who makes little or no use of the internet andwhy?3. Are there gradations in quality of internet useamong children and young people and, ifso, how can these be explained?
Method• Livingstone and Helsper selectivelyinterviewed more than 2,000 young people togauge internet habits, not just access but thebreadth of knowledge.
Conclusions• Non-users and Occasional users are morelikely to be working class and have accessissues- even if they have a computer theyoften do not have broadband and are lesslikely to have computers in their room• Daily users come more from middle classhomes.
Conclusions (2)• Providing home access can alleviate but notovercome the relative disadvantage of comingfrom a low socio-economic status householdin terms of the breadth of internet use
Conclusion (3)• Created a gradation of internet use:- Step 1 centres on information seeking (16%)- Step 2 adds in games and email (29%)- Step 3 adds in instant messaging anddownloading music (27%)- Step 4 adds in a wide range of interactive andcreative uses (27%)